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Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

Ethereal Tales Special Issue All writers start somewhere. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the magazines which published my writing. A few still exist (in one form or the other), some have fallen into the cracks of speculative publication history, others can still be located with some effort.

Illumen Spring 2015 But no matter the fame or lack thereof of the editors, I am grateful to them for publishing my writing. Their acceptance and subsequent publication of my poems or prose helped me to remember my words had worth, and sent me forward on my writing journey.

Illumen Spring 2010 Ethereal Tales Special Issue (includes my story, “Black Bear”) was published by Morpheus Tales as a farewell to a fine magazine which I had the honor of having had a story in (“The Garden Shop”). Illumen, now published by Alban Lake Publishing, was (along with Scifaikuest) originally published by the now-closed, Sam’s Dot Publishing (I had poems published here).

Scifaikuest Feb 2010 Elektrik Milk Bath Press published both a speculative poetry magazine, Paper Crow, (which included my poetry) and a series of speculative anthologies (which included my fiction). All of the publications were wonderful reads, and I’m hoping their editor, Angela Craig, is able to get healthy and start publishing again.

Paper Crow Fall Winter 2010 Editors of Indie press (it used to be call small press – and I much prefer the new label) publications are a special breed. With little chance of profit, and a great chance of putting lots of their own money into an Indie press to help to stay afloat, they persevere. It is through their efforts that many a writer (and illustrator, I might add) have their first stories, poems, essays, and artwork presented to readers.

Paper Crow Spring Summer 2013 A good example (in my case) were the publications edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (published by Richard H. Fawcett). Fantasy and Terror and Fantasy Macabre were early appearances on the other side of the USA of my speculative poetry.

Paper Crow Spring Summer 2011 But when I glance around those long ago Table of Contents, I see I’m not the only writer to have had their early work published by Jessica and Richard. Thank goodness for folks like them who encouraged this (and other) new speculative writers to keep on writing.

Fantasy & Terror 10 The last publisher I’ll mention in this post is the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Let’s face it, poetry isn’t at the top of most people’s reading list. Maybe it’s the bad poetry often force-fed to students when they’re young, but many readers grow up not only not caring about poetry – but actually disliking it.

Fantasy & Terror 9 I, or the other hand, have loved poetry since childhood. It is truly where I began my writing hobby which morphed into a writing career.

In my neck of the woods, nearly forty years ago when I went looking for other writers in the rural part of Maryland where I live, the Harford Poetry Society was it. They graciously helped me grow as a writer and tolerated my strange interest in speculative poetry – and eventually, sf/f/h fiction.

Starline Jan Feb 1987 So you can imagine my delight when I discovered Starline, the newsletter of the SFPA. I felt like shouting “Hooray!” upon discovering that science fiction and fantasy poetry was written and enjoyed by others.

Thanks again to the hard-working and under-paid editors of Indie presses. Though sunlight may have faded a few of the covers, I still treasure the magazines (and books) you produced simply for the love of speculative writing.

And to readers of speculative writing – do both yourself and new genre writers a favor – support Indie presses.

 

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Murder on Marawa Prime, my science fiction murder mystery, was reviewed in Analog, December 2016 issue, in “The Reference Library” column by Don Sakers.

First, my thanks to Don for taking the time to read, then review my novelette. Nowadays, there are so many science fiction books released each year, that it’s hard to catch the eye of a well-known reviewer – much less have a good review published in one of the grand old magazines of science fiction, Analog.

So what did Don think? Here’s an excerpt: “Murder on Marawa Prime is a SF story and a noir mystery, set on a fascinating and well-drawn planet, all packed into a novelette that will leave you wanting more… The story’s tightly plotted, and author Crist does an excellent job of keeping multiple balls in the air while revealing the unique and deadly secrets that have brought murder to Marawa Prime.” – Don Sakers

Murder_Cover_CS_front Woot! This fabulous review adds to the positive comments (used on the front and back covers of the book) from several authors whose writing I admire:

“Inventive and entertaining – a real thrill-ride!” – Gail Z. Martin author of The Ascendent Kingdoms Saga and The Chronicles of the Necromancer series.

“Vonnie Crist serves up some deliciously dangerous interstellar noir in Murder on Marawa Prime. One part Raymond Chandler, one part Agatha Christie, and a huge dose of her own exceptionally clean prose and understated worldbuilding, this is a fast-moving nail-biter on a planet at once iconic and alien. Just one word of warning: don’t aggravate the geneered singing opossum.” – Charles E. Gannon, author of The Tales of the Terran Republic series.

“A fast-paced story of assassins, genetic engineering, singing opossums and betrayal, Vonnie Winslow Crist writes the future fantastic.” – Deborah Walker (also writes as Kelda Crich)

Interested in taking a look at Murder on Marawa Prime? You can find links to various formats on Pole to Pole Publishing’s website: http://poletopolepublishing.com/books/murder-on-marawa-prime/

 

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As a writer of speculative fiction, I have to be aware of the spelling and pronunciation of the places and people which are part of the imaginary worlds I build.

A long jumble of letters with a weird pronunciation might seem to be a good way to announce that my story is set in a fantastical world. Bizarre accents and hyphenated names might appear to be an easy way to signal to my readers that the characters aren’t human. But I don’t want to work that hard to figure out (and remember) crazy pronunciations, and neither do my readers.

So what’s a writer of science fiction and fantasy to do? I recommend selecting names that are easy to remember and pronounce – but ones which “fit” your world.

crist-dagger For example, in my epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger, I used baby name books to select Nordic, Celtic, Old English, Scandinavian, etc. names for some of my characters. Other characters’ names are mixed-up combinations of the names of family members and friends. Each time I began moving the letters around to create a character’s or race’s name, I used the sound of the letter combinations to determine if the result felt like it belonged in Lifthrasir.

Lifthra-what? Lifthrasir (LEEF-thra-seer) is the name of the imaginary world of The Enchanted Dagger and the forthcoming Beyond the Sheercliffs. It is from Norse mythology, and according to Teresa Norman’s book, A World of Baby Names, it means: “She who holds fast to life, desiring life…[Lifthrasir] is considered to be the mother of humanity after all perished at Ragnarok.” Well, what better name for the world I’m creating in which the good folk must fight for their lives, their children’s lives, and control of their world?

An example of my letter-scramble technique, would be Grindee, a particular kind of goblin. A dear friend’s nickname is Dee. She has a marvelous sense of humor, and I thought she’d grin during parts of the book. So why not name a goblin for her and her sense of humor?

Another example: a minor character in The Enchanted Dagger is named Mobree Dug. Mo is the nickname of another friend, and the first 4 letters of her last name are “bree.” Dug is the phonetic spelling of a brother-in-law’s name.

As for the title character, Beck – I have a sister and sister-in-law both named Becky. Plus, the name of the instructor who taught my Writing the Novel graduate course was Mr. Becker. In addition, Beck (again according to Norman’s book) is a Scandinavian name which is the “Transferred use of the surname meaning ‘dweller near the brook.'” In The Enchanted DaggerBeck comes from a seaside town, and water plays an important part in his interaction with magic.

The names of other family members and friends became a warrior race – the Janepar, a race close to nature – the D’Anlo, the wisewomen – the Alywyn Sisterhood, the Wenbo River, the towns of Raystev and Larmik, the country – Dobran, even the gravediggers Nate and Stu, and I could go on and on. (Though I won’t, since by now, you’re quite bored).

But you’ll notice, Grindee, Beck, Lifthrasir and the rest aren’t too difficult to read or pronounce. Believe me when I say your readers will appreciate the effort when you make names easy to pronounce and remember even if you world is far, far away or long, long ago or even beyond our galaxy.

To take a look at The Enchanted Skean, visit https://www.amazon.com/Enchanted-Dagger-Chronicles-Lifthrasir/dp/1941559182/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489363491&sr=8-1

For a totally different take on Pronunciation, here’s the link to writer friend Andrew McDonough’s take on the subject: https://andrewmcdowellauthor.com/2017/03/12/pronunciation

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IMG_1821 Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. Born on January 19, 1809, Edgar lived only 40 years, but his impact on writing has lasted much longer.

Many of today’s writers of dark fantasy, horror, and detective stories can trace their genre’s roots back to Poe. And arguably, even science fiction short stories can find a rootlet embedded in one of his tales.

I, too, have always been a fan of Poe’s wonderfully fantastical tales and lyric poetry. So it is with admiration that I say, “Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!”

For those who want to learn more, here’s a link to more information on this American writer.

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51q9gur7vpl Just in time for Halloween and Day of the Dead, my Day of the Dead story (actually Night of the Dead in the tale), Gifts in the Dark, has been published as an eBook by Digital Fiction Publishing Corp as part of their Digital Science Fiction line.

And Gifts in the Dark is science fiction, since the story is set in the far future on a distant planet that humans have settled on after a long voyage in deep sleep. But even in this far-future setting, people remain people, sisters remain sisters, and the Day of the Dead traditions still ring true. Yes, there are fantastical supernatural elements and superstitions, but as in all stories, there are people at the center of the tale.

For in the end, the story, no matter its genre, is about its characters – their lives, loves, fears, and struggles.

Ready for a little Day of the Dead reading?  Gifts in the Dark is only 99 cents – so why not give it a look!

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catseye_final-72dpiI had the privilege to edit a wonderful new anthology from Pole to Pole Publishing, In a Cat’s Eye, with writing friend, Kelly A. Harmon. By the way, the title comes from an English proverb: “In a cat’s eye, all things belong to cats.”

We received hundreds of stories, and had to turn down some good cat tales. But the 16 stories which share the final table of contents provide a fun and satisfying read for cat lovers and fans of speculative fiction. And I can honestly say, there are a couple of stories in In a Cat’s Eye, I wish I’d written! (Which is the highest compliment I can offer).

To read a bit more about some of the stories and their authors, here’s a link to a fascinating post on the blog of one of the contributors, Gregory L. Norris. You can find out more about the thoughts behind the cat stories of Gail Z. Martin, Oliver Smith, Steven R. Southard, KI Borrowman, Christine Lucas, Doug C. Souza, AL Sirois, AL Kaplan, and, of course, Gregory L. Norris.

If you, a friend, or family member loves cat stories or science fiction and fantasy, In a Cat’s Eye just might be the book for you. Here’s a buy link, just in case.

 

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When Gail Z. Martin invited me to post a blog as a part of the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign, I decided to make it personal.

I was one of those kids who was different enough to attract the attention of bullies. A girl interested in science, math, art, fantasy, science fiction, writing, etc. attracted unwanted and negative attention from some of my school mates. Junior high (middle school to you younger folks) was the worse – I was regularly spit on by several “popular” girls on the school bus.

Where are those girls now? I don’t know, and to be honest, I don’t care. The things which made me an outcast then, are the things which I value the most about myself now. But that self-assurance is hard-won.

I’ve dealt with depression and lingering self-doubt for much of my life, because of that long-ago bullying. Which gives me great compassion for those who are different or who feel like outsiders. And though I won’t name names, because it is not my story to tell – I can assure them that many of the writers and artists I’m friendly with have experienced either bullying, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or a combination of those things.

So what’s my message? First, don’t let bullies ruin your life. They don’t deserve that much power. You are unique and valuable. The problem lies with the bullies – not you. Second, when you see bullying going on, stop it if you can, or get help from an adult to put an end to the bullying. Third, don’t be a bully. Always choose kindness.

One of the best things about the science fiction and fantasy community is their willingness to accept those marvelously unique artists, writers, and fans who might be viewed as “outsiders” in the mundane world. And one of the best things about being a writer of speculative fiction, is I get to create and celebrate characters who are different – whether they have physical, mental, or emotional challenges – imperfect characters are the most interesting to read about. Why? Because they’re the characters most like us.

About the campaign:

holdontothelight-fb-banner #HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627

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